laptop for home Linux administration and python coding

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laptop for home Linux administration and python coding

Postby Zelmor » Tue Aug 18, 2015 12:38 pm UTC

TLDR first:
-about 14 inch, second hand fine too
-high resolution screen
-6+ hours on battery
-primarily used for coding and to ssh to production server, no need for gpu and heavy processing
-no gaming
-linux compatibility

I am currently learning python programming and linux administration on my own to improve my career possibilities. As I have standing desks both at work and at home, being stationary in front of a desk so much can get tedious by the end of the day.

I am looking for a cheap seconder laptop that provides at least 6+ hours of battery time with wifi. Keyboard ergonomics and screen-real estate are key, while portability comes second as the laptop would be used in the couch-kitchen-balcony triangle while lying/sitting, though it would be nice to be able to take it with me once in a while and code somewhere else instead of the household. Build quality is important, as I am not really good at caring for inanimate objects.

I would primarily use it as an input device, and process heavy work can be delegated to a headless machine I have running in the household. My preferred work environment is Debian stable or testing with xfce or ratpoison, running sublime text and terminal for most coding and file operations.

This machine is not intended to do compiling, play games, youtube browsing and web browsing beyond stack exchange and similar. However, I do prefer the swiftness that comes with an SSD, and I will most probably install one straight away, if not already available. 8GB ram preferred, but I can do with 4.

While I do love thinkpads for work and have been using them for years now, I am open to different brands as long as they allow for 6+ hours of battery time for such work. I would prefer not to keep the laptop on the charger much, as it would impair my mobility to stand up and move to another room while not breaking my flow.

Am also open to manually replace the display with a high-def IPS panel, if it is necessary to do so. I understand the importance of high definition display for small screens, and would prefer to keep multiple windows open side-by-side.

Apple products are a no-go.

I am looking forward to all you recommendations. Thank you for your time.

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Re: laptop for home Linux administration and python coding

Postby roflwaffle » Tue Aug 18, 2015 5:45 pm UTC

If it wasn't for the HD screen, I'd recommend a refurb chromebook. Unfortunately, the only inexpensively priced one with an HD screen (CB5-571) doesn't have support for seabios/custom firmware and I'm not sure if the HD is upgradable.

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Re: laptop for home Linux administration and python coding

Postby markfiend » Mon Aug 24, 2015 2:59 pm UTC

I know it doesn't exactly fit your hardware requirements but I have an old EeePC 701 that I use for almost exactly the same use-case—python scripting and ssh to other boxen. I run Arch Linux on mine and I've never heard of any machine that would take an Arch install but not Debian.

I have used xfce on it in the past but IMO a full DE is a bit too memory-hungry for the Eee's half-a-gig of RAM; on the other hand my current xmonad install is just peachy so I'd think that ratpoison should be fine.

The big issue for you is probably the screen real-estate. 800x480px is probably a bit small for lots of windows but I get on fine with it—and there is a VGA socket for an external screen if needed. Keyboard ergonomics might also be an issue; given the entire machine is only 225mm wide, the keys are teeny-tiny (although I cope and I have huge shovels as hands).

A huge advantage is that you can probably pick up a fully-functional second-hand machine dirt-cheap. (A quick look at British ebay suggests £30 as a ballpark figure)
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